Telehealth might be the wave of the future, but it is important not to lose the personal human factor of care for injured workers. In this session at WCI’s 2019 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference, panelists discussed how to utilize a variety of clinical solutions to optimize diagnosis and treatment for patients.
Moderator: Patricia Hettinger – Senior Regional Claims Manager at Hilton
- Susan Shemanski – Vice President, Risk Management Services at Adecco Staffing
- Ann Schnure – Vice President, Telemedicine Operations at Concentra
- Andrea J. Buhl – Senior Vice President, Clinically Integrated Medical Program at Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc
- Jean Brajuha – Vice President, Field Case Management at Paradigm Complex Care Solutions
Telemedicine in not a new concept, but its use has only recently started expanding in the workers’ compensation market. Though the technology is present, there are a host of issues to address, including regulatory challenges.
One key to a successful telemedicine program is effective implementation. There are several important considerations:
- Front-line managers and employees should be trained on how and when to use the program.
- Employees should be educated about which types of injuries are appropriate for telemedicine and which are not.
- It is important to be aware of state regulations, which can vary from one state to the next.
- Many states do not yet have specific rules on the books regarding telemedicine.
- It is essential to take employee privacy into account. Having a private space for employees to speak with the triage team and providers is a good idea.
Medical case management is people-centric. Telemedicine can be a valuable component of an existing medical management program. Some employers who have used telemedicine for triage have seen increased patient satisfaction. In a brick and mortar clinic or emergency room, care providers are sometimes rushed and do not have a lot of time to spend with each patient. Telemedicine triage, on the other hand, can allow medical professionals to spend more time with each patient, which increases satisfaction. That being said, it is important to choose a telemedicine provider that is familiar with workers’ compensation and the injuries most typically experienced at work.
It is important to remember that utilizing telemedicine is not an all-or-nothing decision. There are cases in which an in-person evaluation will be more appropriate and employees will still have that option. Telemedicine does allow for efficiencies and, perhaps, a better experience for some types of injuries. A medical management program that takes a comprehensive approach, with a variety of care options, will have a much higher rate of success.